Difference Between General Contractor and Remodeling Contractor

If you are thinking of improving your home with the help of home improvement service providers, you have to keep in mind that one professional may offer a different line of services than another. There are those companies that specialize in interior designing for commercial buildings and there are those that have full-service offers in handyman services.

While there is a wide array of services that you can consider for your humble abode, two kinds of professionals are highly demanded in the market these days because of the growing need of homeowners when it comes to home improvement needs. Right before you hire a service provider who is professional enough in updating and reviving the glow of your home, you have to take into good consideration the difference between a professional service provider and a remodeling contractor.

A general contractor is one kind of professional that you can hire if there is a need for several specialists to take care of your home improvement needs. He is the person responsible in supervising the project and assuring that the tasks involved to complete the project are appropriate for the scheduled time.

Furthermore, he makes it a point that the entire project is suitable for the budget you have agreed upon. There are times when this kind of service provider will not be the one to do the work in improving your home. He takes care of the hiring of specialists or subcontractors who will be the point of contact in the necessary duties of the project.

Remodeling Contractor

This type of service provider is a team of professionals who specializes in renovating and remodeling different parts of a house. They are the ones who hire electricians, interior designers, handymen, architects, and any other pertinent specialists who can take good care of your home improvement needs.

There is a different between an entity that focuses on remodeling and one that is commonly referred to as a professional service provider. A remodeling contractor has the tendency to offer various services that a professional service provider does not usually offer to homeowners.

One good advantage of hiring this kind of contractor is the inclusive warranties that they offer to their client. If you are about to decide on which kind of contractor you want to work with in improving your house, it is always best to determine your needs so that you will be able to hire the most effective professionals for your project.



Source by Fidelio Orosco

Why Vinyl Is Better Than Timber For External Wall Cladding

Home improvement is a task that will never end since there are a lot of new materials and items homeowners can opt for to make their houses more comfortable and more appealing. The only way homeowners can reduce home improvement tasks is to look for materials or items that can match their needs and last for a long time. When it comes to outdoor aesthetics and improvement such as external wall cladding, most homeowners prefer vinyl than its traditional counterpart timber due to the following features below.

Durability

Timber cladding is made from wood. Of course, everyone knows that wood can last for a long time. However, there are numerous issues that can affect the credibility of wood such as water and pests, which can be a huge expenditure. Luckily, vinyl cladding can withstand water problems. In addition, vinyl cladding does not attract pests. As a result, this type of cladding can be used for a longer period of time.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, vinyl also has little to no maintenance. In addition, cleaning vinyl is also a breeze since you only need to make use of a mild solution and a brush or cloth. Unfortunately, when using timber, homeowners need to do a pile of maintenance tasks from repainting, re-oiling, and even filling cracks to ensure that timber cladding will last for a long time.

Appearance

As for appearance, many homeowners still opt for timber cladding since it features a unique and natural appeal for the house. Its gradation of colours, the rings, and grain increases the wonderful aesthetics of the cladding. But, if you are looking for a more contemporary look to match your modern house, vinyl cladding can provide you with such feature.

Installation

In terms of installation, vinyl cladding is easier and more convenient to install since it is light-weight and flexible. Therefore, you can easily install it even on unusual wall shapes. On the other hand, timber installation can be a huge task since it is heavy. Apart from that, there are cases when you need to hire experts to properly accomplish the job.

Costs

Lastly, the costs of vinyl and timber claddings are virtually the same. Costs may differ depending on the type of timber or the type of vinyl texture you are looking for. Size can also alter cladding costs. So, it is important that you measure your house properly to avoid over spending when you purchase.

By knowing all these, homeowners can easily choose the right wall cladding that can match their needs and preferences.



Source by Johnny Carlino

What Landlords Should Know About Home Improvement Grants

All American rental property owners, particularly those who are in need of essential repairs but lack sufficient funding to do so, should be made aware of the existence of home improvement grants that are sponsored by United States government. Whether your repair issues are that of a cosmetic nature or a project related to tenant safety, whether you need supplemental funding in order to do it, or you just would rather spend Uncle Sam’s money than your own, there may be generous amounts of free government money for you to apply towards your expenses.

Knowing this, let us now concentrate on a rather important subject for landlords…the consequences of neglecting to maintain your rental properties. Though this may seem an unpleasant topic to discuss, we know that this is pertinent information for a landlord to possess, and requires recognition. When adhering to a rental agreement made between a landlord and tenant, it is a given that the unit made available to the renter, as well as all common areas of the building such as laundry rooms, hallways, courtyards, and basements, will be properly maintained and inspected in order to insure tenant safety. Many respectable landlords utilize government home improvement grants make this possible

When the required maintenance is left untended to, or poorly performed, this puts the tenants at risk of potential danger. The repercussions of the neglect of the building, and compromise of its occupants, can result in a number of unfavorable circumstances for the property owner. Aside from the obvious downfall being that any unattended to repair issue usually will in time become worse and more costly to repair, there are many worse scenarios that frequently occur for landlords who’s maintenance attention skills leave something to be desired.

Regardless of whether or not they have a signed a lease, any legal occupants of your building have a right to safe conditions and repairs to be made in a timely manner. If you as the property owner do not attend to these matters, it is completely legal for your tenants to withhold their rent payments until you do. You do not have to have any type of written agreement with the tenant for them to take this action. It is their right, and it is the law.

In addition to this financial setback, you may then be fined by state or city inspectors and court ordered to make the repairs, or in some extreme cases, evacuate the premises. On a regular basis, many particularly undesirable landlords have been sued by tenants, had their buildings condemned, and some repeat offenders have actually been jailed for such neglectful actions that put the building occupants in physical jeopardy. All the while acquiring free government money in home improvement grants to finance the repairs could have prevented this.

If you are a landlords, good or bad, with wonderfully kept property, or homes that require extensive rehabilitation, do yourself and your tenants a favor and familiarize yourself with the free government grant programs that offer home improvement grants. After all, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.



Source by Sarah Beckham

The Must-Do Home Improvements To Increase The Value Of Your Home

When it comes to home improvement, you can spend a lot on a project and increase the value of your home by very little. Here you will find the ways to do the opposite, increasing the value of your home a great deal while putting out very little money.

If you have a big enough yard to avoid a crowded look, adding a wood deck to your property is relatively cheap and easy to do yourself. Be sure to sand, prime and either stain or paint the deck. It increases the value of your home because it gives a potential buyer the appeal of a nice space for recreation and entertaining. This is a value for most people.

Turning your attic into living space is a very cheap way to increase the square footage of your home. All that is necessary is to install drywall, create a floor with vents, and add some minor electrical wiring for switches and lights. Each additional square foot of home, depending on your area, can increase the value of your home by one thousand dollars.

A very cheap improvement that increases your home’s value is painting. You can use cheap paint to give your home a clean appearance and make the home look newer than it is. Painting is also another project that you can do on your own. Saving money not hiring a professional is a large part of your return.

Putting in new doors is the best first step. A new front door is essential to making a good first impression. Make sure to put in the effort to make the door seal well, increasing your home’s energy efficiency. As far as interior doors, purchase 6 panel doors that are all the same. Uniformity goes a long way for value, and 6 panel doors are in high demand and create a sense of elegance for a potential buyer.

Replacing old windows is very important to increasing the value of your home. It increases its value by making your home more energy efficient and eliminating undesirable drafts. New windows also make your home look newer, increasing its appeal to potential buyers.

Cleaning your home from top to bottom will also add value. Use a power sprayer to clean the outside, including porches and walkways. Remove as much unwanted items as possible from your basement if you have one, and do the same with the attic. Clean out closets and cupboards, which will also rid the home of clutter, but also allows potential buyers to see what they are getting without having to move items for them. Minimize knickknacks around the home, store most electrical appliances away from counters and remove stains from all surfaces. Cleaning the floors is optimal. If you do not have a quality carpet cleaning machine rent one or hire a cleaning company. A clean home looks newer and will be essential in attracting buyers.

Most people are capable of doing the home improvement projects found above on their own. Doing-it-yourself is one of the most important factors in keeping the projects affordable, increasing your return. Use the tips above and your home will be worth at least 3 times more than you will need to invest.



Source by Peter Sicoli

Home Improvement Grants Most African American Homeowners Overlook

Home improvement continues as one of the biggest expenses for African- American homeowners. Black homeowners pay the most for home improvements, repairs, upgrades and interest rates according to Federal Government statistics.

Because of a lack of information sources to get the word out to African American homeowners, most African American homeowners fail to take advantage of the many programs available to them.

Despite a record number of home improvement grants available from the federal government. Thousands of black homeowners still pay for high-priced home improvements, without first looking at what’s available from the federal government.

This could often save black homeowners thousands of dollars. It’s a shame the programs most black homeowners finance through there taxes go unused. Yes, by the people who could use them the most.

This week we’ll talk about some of the grant programs currently available from the U.S government. These grant programs can help you improve the value, comfort and energy savings of your home.

If you can get just one of these grants, it would more than pay for the time and effort it takes to get it.

According to HUD (Federal Housing and Urban Development) The Department has published the Early Registration Notice for potential applicants applying for funding under HUD’s competitive grant programs, available on the Grant.gov website. This Notice provides information to help applicants better understand the electronic submission process.

To help with the registration process, HUD has developed a brochure on how to register. HUD also has a brochure that will help you find and apply for grant opportunities. HUD has also prepared a Special file to assist you in completion of a grant. In addition to HUD, many low and no cost loans and grants exist for home improvements from most state and local government agencies.

These loans can go toward bringing homes up to code, used for energy efficient improvements or for cosmetic improvements to your property. All these actions can also help to raise and preserve the value of your home for little or no cost to you.

To take advantage of this program contact your local city or county rehabilitation department for more information. The key is to getting informed and starting the process by taking action.

For the website that list all federal government grants currently available Click Here! This site offers many tools for getting grants, such as tips for finding the right government grant for your specific needs. This site also offers a government grant search tool, government grant email alerts and much more.

By searching and keeping up-to-date on what home improvement programs are available, you can save thousands of dollars. HUD is working feverishly to improve and streamline the application and approval process of home improvement grants.

Meanwhile find out what qualifications you need to apply, get the necessary paperwork, fill it out and send or email it in. You never know, this may turn into a chance for you to save money and improve your home at the same time. What a deal.



Source by Roy Primm

Benefits of Adding Picture Windows With Your Home Improvement

Any window in your home provides an opportunity to get a glimpse of the outside world but it’s the picture window that offers you a way to bring the best view into your home. A well-designed picture window can offer an unobstructed view of your surroundings – no matter the weather – from the comfort of your home. Majestic view aside there’s also the benefit of boosting the value of your home with new a new picture window – and added market value in this economy is always a plus.

Choosing the Right Picture Window

Most think of the traditional window when this topic comes up in home improvement discussions surrounding window replacement and the addition of more natural light. While a large piece of plate glass is functional, it’s becoming less popular among home owners because of the bland design and the poor insulation. They’re also more fragile than reinforced panes.

Segregated panes that make up a larger picture window are making a comeback as homeowners try to embrace classic architectural designs in newer homes. While offering enhanced aesthetical appeal these windows are also far more sturdy and – should a pane crack, chop or break – easy to replace.

Window manufacturers are also working to enhance the energy efficiency of large picture windows by creating double pane grid designs. This provides the same utility benefit as a common double or triple pane window but on a larger scale. Each individual section has its own packet of air or gas to help reduce heat gain and loss.

Window Replacement

For those that have an existing picture window, it’s best to order a newer design or style to ditch the old plate glass or sectional window that features smaller – though still large – pieces of glass. The energy savings alone will cover the cost of the upgrade over the years. If you live in a cold climate the install will likely payment for itself much faster.

Getting Creative with Window Design

Don’t just base your purchase of a window upgrade on price alone, shooting for the low-budget models to save money. There’s a lot of creative play when it comes to enhancing your windows. If it’s in your budget, consider having custom windows designed to better match the architecture of your home. Likewise you can splurge a little and have the windows built out to create a bay window. While not technically a picture window the bay window can add some functional space to your home while improving the view outside the home.

While it’s not recommended for the DIY lover due to the scale of the job and the size of the windows, you can have a replacement picture window or bay window put in quickly with the right general contractor. Contact a local contractor or specialist window installer to get an estimate on upgrading your home with a new model window.



Source by Daniel Cargille

Converting Your Carport Into a Garage – A Profitable Home Improvement

There are many homeowners who opt to building carports because this task is relatively inexpensive than having a garage. However, homes with garages are more desirable. Thus, in case you decide to sell the property in the future, it will be a lot easier. Converting your carport into a garage may be quite costly but the benefits are manifold too.

Firstly, most people do not distinguish a carport apart from the garage since they both mainly serve the same purpose of housing your car. As was said, a carport is cheaper because it is usually made from few materials to make a simple shed. All this space needs are a few pieces of lumber or steel poles and sheets of galvanized tin or gable roofs. Such materials are susceptible to damage. Then your vehicles may not get the protection it really needs. A garage is more of the permanent structure attached or detached to the house. This is usually enclosed as some homeowners opt to make this area an office or workshop as well.

Assessing your need for the conversion is your primary task. You have to think thoroughly as to what purposes the new space will serve. If you only need it to secure your vehicles, then a simple garage would do. If you are thinking of having a special space for keeping your tools, organizing workshop materials and for other functions, then complex detached garages are perfect.

Envision the size of the new space. The minimum size for a single garage is 12 ft. wide x 22 ft. long, and 18 ft. wide x 22 ft. long for double garages. Along with the planning of the size, consider the widths and heights of the flooring and ceiling. Allot a higher ceiling height if you are installing door openers with thick header. Usually a standard door needs at least an 8-ft. span for the opening.

Hiring professionals may also be needed especially when you want new wiring, plumbing, roofing and insulation. A home inspector or structural engineer must firstly examine the current conditions of these aspects so you can have an overview of the extent and expenses of needed replacements. Note that wall insulation is vital particularly if you are living in a location with extreme hot temperature.

The minute you have finalized the conversion construction details, it is important that you check your local area about building codes and regulations. In most states, a homeowner needs to secure a permit if these tasks are involved in renovating, remodeling or building a new structure:

– demolishing load-bearing walls,

– changing roofline

– altering footprint of the house

– installing new windows, door and sink

– new electrical wiring and plumb work

As you go along each preparation step, your finances should be readied as well. List down the materials you think are needed for this home project and across each item, place the projected amounts. A simple carport-to-garage makeover requires wall studs, bottom plate, door with track and opener, plywood, chip board for sheathing, pegboard for wall insulation and finishing materials like PVC siding or brick veneer. Get quotations from local stores or online home improvement shop websites. Moreover, do not forget to include labor costs. It would be easier to calculate such operating expense if you specify the duration of this project. Elaborate installations would naturally translate to longer hours of work, thus, you need to allocate more budget for paying each handyman you hire. Each laborer can be paid $25-35 per hour. If you want to be saved from worrying altogether about the conversion, hiring a contractor would be very helpful. But this can set you back $3,000 to $8,000 for the whole project depending on the complexity of the construction work and your location.

Once the conversion is over and done with, you will see that a garage is an invaluable investment. The expenses may demand much from your finances but the added protection and better and higher property value are worth such expenditure and effort.



Source by Marikor Hidalgo

Government Grants For Home Improvement – There is Free Money Available

Some people are living in homes that are in dire need of upgrading and unfortunately these people may not even be aware that there are free government grants for home improvement that may be available to them.

Every week while on my way to work I pass by homes that look like they are falling apart. I do not know how anyone can live in them, as they look so bad. So, why don’t these homeowners just fix up these dilapidated houses or tear them down and start over? Usually it is because they cannot afford it. Home remodeling costs money and those who are of low income are too worried about how they are going to buy food or pay for water before they think about fixing up their house.

But for these people there are government grants for home improvement that they can receive. If you are living in a home that is unhealthy or unsafe and you qualify, based on income, you can get help from the government. And this is money that does not have to be paid back. This is money that will fix termite damage, leaky roofs, poor plumbing and more.

If your house is unsafe for you and your family you need to get information about this type of assistance from the government. Every year the government sets back billions of dollars for different grant opportunities, and many of them are geared towards the low income citizens, who just cannot afford to fix their house, buy food, or even pay rent. This includes programs like the government grants for home improvement, TANF, and LIHEAP.



Source by Zak Crawford

Auto Insurance Is A Commodity You Can’t Live Without

Auto insurance is vital for anyone that owns a vehicle. The following ideas should help you narrow down your options so you can use to figure out the best insurance coverage for your unique situation.

Every company has their own way of calculating your risk level and premium rates. You can save a good deal of money by checking into policies from several competitors.

TIP! Lowering your yearly mileage can help you lower your monthly auto insurance payments. The majority of car insurance companies offer a discount for drivers who log less miles.

You must understand the various coverage plans when buying car insurance. There are many different situations that come into play when determining the cost of getting insurance coverage for your vehicle. Bodily injury insurance can cover costs associated with death, death and injury claims if you were to hit someone.

Insurance Companies

When upgrading your car by purchasing extras or replacing parts, check with your insurance company on how much they will cover if ever your car gets damaged or stolen. Most insurance companies do not provide coverage for these parts, insurance companies do not cover these items.

TIP! When you’re in the market for car insurance, you will want to understand what protection the various coverage types will provide. Your insurance may only be for a single vehicle, but the cost will still be affected by many different variables.

When you are shopping around for auto insurance, get quotes from multiple carriers. Rates vary drastically in the car insurance world. Get new batch of quotes each year to ensure the lowest premiums and out-pocket-costs. Make sure this year’s quote is for the quotes you compare are based on similar amounts of coverage.

Do not pay the monthly payments. Your insurance provider could have added anywhere from three to five extra dollars to your monthly bill. These fees can add up very fast to something more substantial. Adding another bill to your monthly pile can create a nuisance. The fewer payments you have to worry about, the more money you save.

Property damage liability coverage is an important thing to include in your car insurance policy that you must get. This will take care of any damages your car causes in an auto accident. There are only three states left in America that do not have this coverage.

Do not jump on the cheapest car insurance quotes. Cheap may say it all or it may be a great deal.

Insurance rates vary due to the chances of theft or accident, and in general rural areas and suburbs have lower rates than cities.

Insurance against drivers who don’t have insurance is also important, as well as non-accident damage to your car like fire or flood, like in a fire.

Conversely, whenever these things are removed from your record, the lower your insurance costs. When they go away, you may want to get some updated quotes from insurance companies.

Many insurance companies give discounts to people who do not drive less. This makes cutting back on your driving down a wonderful way to save money on car insurance.

Never drive without car insurance! Auto insurance protects you, your family, and your assets in an accident. Also, in most places, it’s the law! These tips are designed to guide you to the right insurance plan for your automobile needs.

How To Self Generate Qualified Home Improvement Leads

Home improvement business ventures have a very high rate of failure! Why? Contractors lack marketing knowledge to attract qualified leads, and sales systems to gain the business. No leads… no sales… no business… doors close.

In this article you will learn what is working today, and also lead generation methods via digital marketing strategies. Many leading edge companies are seeing their percentage of leads from web marketing strategies and tactics becoming the major source of their home improvement leads and revenues. There are even lead generation companies farming leads solely from internet marketing and selling them to home improvement companies and general contractors! The good news is you can learn what it takes to generate leads using internet marketing strategies for yourself!

Listed are the most productive lead sources/options for generating quality home improvement leads. Companies who acquire the best “lead mix” for their business, balance these sources and focus on budgeting for best return on investment. Keep in mind that all lead sources should lead to a call center and customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you do not have CRM software, a free source is RenexPro.

Top Home Improvement Lead Sources

Canvassing: Canvassing for leads has seen a tremendous resurgence in the last two years (since 2009). Years ago this was the predominate method going door to door and offering a free estimate, inspection or gift for an appointment. Canvassing can be done with sales personnel or special teams trained to just get the lead.

The canvassing team is usually comprised of a Team Leader, Canvassers and a Van to take them to the territory.

  • Team Leader: Full time employee. Recruits,trains, and supervises his/her canvassers (trains by example, maintains goals, base salary plus incentives.
  • The Canvasser: 19 or older high school graduate – college students are great, clean cut dress code, part time (1,000 hour rule), hourly plus incentives.
  • The Training: Must have a scripted, short presentation. Training and practicing the script is imperative. Canvassers are not selling anything but the appointment. The “hook” for an appointment is a free service and/or gift.

Canvassing for home improvement leads is a great way to get quality leads when the program is done right. Some companies today are exclusively using this method.

Direct Mail: Direct mail is what most home improvement companies use today for the main percentage of their lead generation. Although still a great way too generate leads, it is getting more costly per lead. As long as your service has the margins, direct mail with letters, brochures and post cards should be considered. Caution: Use expert services that have a proven track record for your industry. Don’t skimp and try using a company with no track record. One failed mailing could be devastating to your budget. If you bring it in house, make sure you have experts on the job that test and measure before sending out a mass mailing.

TV & Radio: If you have the budget, these leads are expensive but high quality if the campaigns are branded with a great call to action. TV is hard to measure; however, what branding recognition you gain! The best tip here is to humanize your commercials. Let the viewer know who you are and what the benefits are when doing business with your company.

Radio is the same way. Humanize your ads. The last company where I had an inside view of lead source statistics showed an ever growing benefit to radio ads when the CEO began conducting the ads and bringing his charm to each campaign. Today, I hear him every time I go for drive so I know they are still getting tremendous results.

Shows, Events, Mall Kiosks: Your presence in the community is vital to your business. Use every opportunity you can to make physical contact for lead generation. Have professional marketing materials and eye catching displays. Some companies get so many leads from these venues that they focus most of their efforts there. They know that just like canvassing for leads, you must follow and personalize a script. Train your people to be up-beat, friendly, informative, and persistent in closing the appointment… not a sale!

Telemarketing: Cold calling for leads is not very productive; however, responding to inquiries from printed material, incoming calls or email is a must in your business. If you do not have the budget for a call center, its not very expensive to outsource this task. Once again, close for the appointment… not a sale. And, do not ball park pricing. This is a disservice to the prospect and your company. There are too many variables with products and installation. Professional eyeballs need to be on site!

Digital Marketing Syndication: Digital marketing syndication for home improvement lead generation is becoming a major source and factor in lead capture. Today, more and more companies are developing digital marketing strategies to boost profits by driving highly interested and qualified traffic to their websites. AND, we are seeing companies that gain almost all their leads from their internet strategies and tactics.

Almost all sources for leads find their way to your web presence. Think about this, when a homeowner wants to remodel any part of their home, how do they get the information to contact a contractor? Today, more an more prospects search the internet… OR… they respond to an ad from all the other sources I have mentioned in is article, and check up on that company by going to their website! Have you experienced prospects wanting more than one estimate? 90% of the time the prospect wants to get other proposals or estimates so they do an internet search for competitors. Who do they find and pick… the best websites that are on the first page!

What if you dominate the internet space in your area? What if you have a website that is so appealing to the viewer, and it has a Call To Action on every page? What if you have campaigns, articles, videos, announcements, informational sites, press releases, Pay Per Click ads, banners, links from manufacturers and other service/product companies pointing to your interactive website? Your overwhelming presence on the internet will get more leads than you can handle! You will grow your business!

Referrals… Another article on this. Get good at this. Training required!

All home improvement lead sources discussed in this article are important for your business. Find what works best for you, and make sure that your business has a dominating web presence that is syndicated for maximum quality lead conversion!



Source by Robert Andres Cuadra

Home Improvements – Window Types And Frames Explained

Frame Materials

Since the frame can account for as much as 25% of the total window area; it should be at least as well insulated as the glass. Several different frame types are available.

Solid Wood and Clad Wood

Solid wood frames are a good choice from an energy standpoint. The colour choices are unlimited but wood does require regular re-painting inside and outside.

Clad wood frames are protected on the exterior with a covered of pre-painted aluminum or vinyl. Clad frames are more expensive than plain wood but eliminate exterior painting. Claddings must be well designed to prevent water from becoming trapped behind them.

Aluminum

Aluminum frames are durable, and good designs are available for residential windows, aluminum conducts heat rapidly. To prevent condensation and frost from forming on the frame, the frame and sash must be equipped with well-designed thermal breaks.

It is difficult to judge whether an aluminum frame is equipped with a good thermal break. One thing you can do is ask people who have lived with the brand you are considering whether they have experienced any condensation problems.

If a metal window frame has a CCMC number, it has passed the CSA A-440 standard test for condensation resistance. Be particularly wary of inexpensive aluminum replacement windows.

Vinyl

Vinyl frames provide good insulation and do not require painting. However, some manufacturers reinforce the vinyl with metal, which can decrease the frames insulation value. Wood reinforcing is preferable.

Fibreglass

Fiberglass window frames are a recent innovation available from a limited number of custom manufacturers. Fibreglass frames will hold their shape permanently and will not warp, shrink, rot, bow, dent or twist.

Air Leakage

If you are going to the expense and trouble of replacing windows, make energy efficiency one of your most important considerations. I talked about draftproofing in an earlier article, so I will focus on air leakage here.

There are some major air leakage areas in the basement. After construction the sill plate can shrink away from the concrete foundation and leave you with a wind chill factor. Leakage in the header area wastes money and can make the floors upstairs chilly.

Let’s not forget the attic. Care should be taken to seal around all the openings in the attic floor, such as ceiling light fixtures, plumbing stacks, exhaust fans and chimney chases. Otherwise warm moist air can escape into the attic, where it can condense and cause moisture damage. Before leaving the attic remember to weather-strip the hatch and latch it snugly.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Extreme air sealing will make power ventilating a necessity. Care should be taken to enable all power exhaust systems to have adequate replacement air inlets.

It’s Just That Easy!



Source by Shell Busey

What You Should Know Before You Hire A Home Improvement Contractor

Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) and Home Improvement Salesman (HIS) are required by law in almost every jurisdiction in the United States to be registered and licensed. Licensing procedures are generally done by Municipal or local agencies of the respective State. For example, HIC and HIS are licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs in New York City.

As you might be aware, many of these Home Improvements Contractors and Salesmen are “fly by night” operators who misrepresent and fraudulently swindle millions of dollars from innocent home owners every year. Many of whom run and operate their scams out of their Vans, Trucks and SUV instead of a physical business address. Many years ago, the home improvement trade was referred to as the “Tin Men” industry where high powered salesmen sold aluminum sidings to homeowners with over 500-1000 per cent mark ups in many cases. Many of those same homeowners ended up with huge second mortgages, mechanic liens and foreclosures in many cases against their properties.

If you are a homeowner making plans to renovate or improve your properties, these are some tips on how to select or chose the right Home Improvement Contractor for your next project. First and foremost, ask HIC and HIS for proof of license, business card showing address, phone number, website, email addresses, etc. Their licenses should be imprinted on business cards. Next, ask for references or testimonials. Try to get at least 3-5 references and make sure not only to call them, but go over and look at the work that was done first hand. Visual inspection is always crucial in deciding on a project. Most importantly, get at least 3-5 written estimates from other HIC/HIS and compare prices. It is never recommended to sign a contract on the spot with any of these high powered salesmen. Take time out to think about the quote or estimate, compare prices and most importantly, call your local municipal or agency to verify that the HIC and HIS are legitimate. It is also a good idea to find out if the HIC you are contemplating to do business with carry what is called a Home Improvement Trust Fund. This is a fund that each HIC is required to pay into so if a homeowner gets scammed, he or she can seek restitution directly from the Agency that licensed the HIC or HIS. Last but not least, try not to give a deposit during the execution of contract. Give yourself that 3 days cancellation right that you are entitled to, so you can think about the transaction or offer. If in any case you are required to give a down payment or deposit, give a very small deposit (less than 10 per cent) if possible. Always keep in mind, never give more than you can afford to lose. If the HIC or HIS is legitimate, they will not ask or insist on getting a deposit up front. They should be credible enough to have accounts/credit with Suppliers such as Home Depot, Lowes, etc., to get materials delivered to your property. Beware of HIC or HIS who desperately seek huge deposits up front. Some of them will demand that you write the check in their names or give them cash. Do NOT do it. That is the first sign to detect an illegal operator. You should write the check to the Company or use a credit card. If they refuse, you should show them the door or call the Police.

In conclusion, let me recommend that you seek a progress payment plan with your Contractor. In other words, you pay them as they go along based on your approval, and most importantly, the Municipal Building Inspector’s approval. You do NOT want to pay a Contractor until or unless the Inspectors give a green light certifying that the work is done professionally and in accordance with local building codes. Ask your Contractor to allow you to hold back at least 10 per cent of the final payment, or better yet, the total contract price for at least 60-90 days after completion, so as to make sure that the work was done correctly. Just imagine getting a roof done for example, and only to find out after a heavy downpour that your roof leaks. Many Contractors do not come back to repair their shoddy workmanship when they get paid. Hold back some money! If you financed your project through a bank or third party lender, get that finance company involved. Make sure that they do a visual inspection of the job that was done and also sign off with the job before they release final payments to the Contractor.



Source by Patrick Pearce

The Importance of Regular Home Improvement

Home improvement, by definition, is making changes to one’s home by making improvements on the house’s looks. Home improvement is usually done by professional contractors, handymen, and even the house owner himself. Home improvement is important because real estate’s value appreciates more if a property is well-maintained. Home improvement is seen by many as unnecessary cost. However, losing value of a real estate is usually caused by neglect in a property’s maintenance. Therefore, in the long run, regular maintenance is crucial for the property’s value to appreciate.

Regular home improvement jobs and renovations will surely make your current living conditions more favorable. People do not easily notice that some areas of the house need improvement. In the long run, regular maintenance will reduce the serious structural damages to your property. It is also important to note that there are different maintenance schedules for different areas of your house. For instance, plumbing should be checked monthly. Ovens, heating systems, smoke detectors, and the like should also be checked monthly to prevent unfortunate disasters. The garden area should be maintained regularly and should undergo rigorous maintenance every four months. This is to prevent insects and termites infestation which can cause significant damage in infrastructure. The landscape of a house should also be in good appearance to help preserve your property’s value. Refrigerators should be checked every three to four months. Check for faulty or loose wiring and avoid energy overload. The roof, on the other hand, should be checked at least every six months. Check for shingles and leaks and take care of them right away. Watch out for blocked gutters as this can lead rainwater to go inside your house. If your house is made mainly of wood, have a regular termite exterminator team visit your house.

Aside from these standard areas in the house that need improvement, remodeling or renovating is also a good idea. It can also add value to real estate. Remodeling can be as simple as changing the paint color in your living room or laying a different color of carpet in your bedroom. Something this simple can make significant changes in your house’s ambience. Renovating can be as major as tearing down the common wall of two rooms to make them one big room. Tearing down walls creates a bigger space which can be used for many purposes. Additional extensions can also be done. Additional space that can be used as garage space is useful. Home improvement tasks that require massive construction should be done by professional contractors. Make a list on what you want changed inside your homes and consult with a team of contractors. This way, you will have an idea on the costs that will be incurred as well as the extent of the repairs and improvements you can do.

Home improvement is important because essentially, it is considered taking care of your home. Aside from the additional value it gives your property, preventive maintenance and remodeling is always good to decrease future damages in your property.



Source by Jaxson Smith

Even Up The Score With The Right Auto Insurance Premium Tips

Some things that can affect your insurance costs are in your control; others aren’t. A higher deductible will make your insurance costs. The information below will give you in finding ways to get the answers to lowing your cost on auto insurance.

Most states have laws that require you to carry appropriate auto liability insurance for drivers. You need to be aware of insurance policies you are required to have. You will break the law if you drive uninsured.

TIP! It is a common misconception that the cost of auto insurance automatically drops as the driver reaches 25 years of age. However, the truth is that rates slowly decrease from the time a driver turns 18 years old, as long as he or she maintains a clean driving record.

You can buy additional insurance beyond the legal requirements for your state. Even though these options will increase your premium, the peace of mind they will give you will be worth it. Uninsured motorist protection is a means to protect yourself from drivers who do not having insurance.

Think about what type of insurance coverage is needed. There are a many insurance options available for you, but most of them aren’t right for you. If you have a history of accidents, you should include collision coverage in your policy.

Carpooling and public transit can save you money on your auto insurance.Insurance companies are very happy with responsible and driving less miles is one way to show them.

TIP! Insurance is based off the type of vehicle you have purchased, whether it is a car or truck. You may have refined tastes and want something luxurious, but the insurance bill will reflect this choice.

When purchasing car insurance, be sure to get quotes from several different agencies. Rates vary dramatically from one company to the next. Get new quotes each year to ensure you always have the best rate. Make sure these quotes are for a similar amount of coverage as last year.

You do not want to be without car insurance, since accidents can and do happen at any time.

You will want to consider this seriously as it will increase your policy price.This is also offer protection if your car is hit by a motorist who has no insurance.

Insurance companies are not all different. If you don’t like the first quote you get, be sure to check out several competitors as they all have different prices available.

Conversely, whenever these things are removed from your record, the lower your insurance costs.When they go away, you may want to get some updated quotes from insurance companies.

Remove any other drivers from your insurance that do not drive your vehicle anymore. If other drives are on your plan, consider removing them in order to save some money on your premiums.

TIP! Carpooling and public transportation are great ways to lower your insurance costs. Insurance companies will reward you for being responsible by lowering your insurance rates.

Always try to remember the costs of insurance before purchasing a car. Keep in mind that cars are viewed favorably by insurance companies. You must factor in this expense when deciding which car you are purchasing a vehicle.

If you have any outstanding traffic or parking tickets, you should make sure you have no unpaid fines. Insurance companies look at your driving record when they determine how much they are going to charge you, so you want to make sure any outstanding fines are paid up. This is morally correct and it also improves your insurance premiums.

As was noted above, it is possible to change your auto policy in ways that will lower its cost. Your location, your driving habits, and how responsibly you drive are all under your control. By educating yourself on these factors, you can bring your insurance down to a price that you can happily live with.

How to Start a Profitable Home Improvement Referral Service

Home improvement referral services are cropping up from New York to California. They are taking the time to do the legwork to find reputable and reliable contractors and these businesses are reaping profits from good work.

It really doesn’t take much to start. A home improvement referral service business takes only a little money and not more time than a regular 40 hour a week job. They can actually start making money within the first year of business.

The first thing to consider is what types of home improvement businesses your will refer. This can include gutter cleaning and replacement, remodeling, building additions, fencing, lawn maintenance, and many others. Remember, all though you may like to paint a client may not like it or have the time. Therefore, no business should be overlooked.

Once you have an idea of the types of contractors for your referral service business, you will need to call the local, county, and state government offices. Get the regulations and requirements regarding licensing, bonding, business registry, and insurance for each type of contractor. This is the first step to building your list. Any contractor that does not meet government regulations should not be on your referral list.

By knowing these requirements and using them, your home improvement referral business will gain credibility with your clients. They will know that if the contractor doesn’t meet these requirements, they will not be on your list. It makes the client feel more sure the job will be completed professionally and correctly.

Another way to ensure creditability of your referral service business is to only look at contractors that are recommended by their past happy customers. But this is not the end of the screening process. Recommendations are not enough.

Once a contractor is recommended to your home improvement referral business, you need to check out his or her service. Talk to them, explaining your referral service business. Many contractors will give you the needed information happily. Ask to see their licenses, bonding information, and insurance to ensure they are current and up to date. Ask for a list of services they provide and the cost for these services. Finally ask for references you may speak to.

Now you have gotten your contractor referral list started. While working on creating this list, you should have started thinking about a name for your referral service business, advertising, office area, office equipment, and ordered a phone line for the business. You may want to use a computer right away, but an index card or file system could work just as well and for a fraction of the cost, until your company grows. Keep in mind that as your company grows, the office space, office equipment, and referral list system will probably need to become computerized to save time and money.

Since your referral business is going to begin locally, check with local newspapers and periodicals to see if they would be interested in doing an article about your business. Make some flyers and ask local hardware stores if you could leave some there to advertise your service. You may also want to send letters to realtors announcing your business, they can be great advertisers for you.

Make your services free to the people calling into your business looking for referrals. Many home improvement referral businesses charge the contractor anywhere from 6% to 15% depending on the size of the project. You put the customers in touch with the contractor, and upon completion of the project, the contractor pays you a fee.

Advertise that no contractors pay you to get onto your referral list. If clients or contractors ask how they get on the list, explain to them the only way for a contractor to get on the list is for a customer to recommend them. You may want to explain the whole screening process to let the person know the exact qualifications the contractors need to have before being accepted.

A referral service business can expand easily and rapidly. Once your business starts to grow, create a business plan to set goals. Decide how much you want to expand and consider starting franchises in other locations or expanding the list to include contractors that were not included originally. This is your home improvement referral service business and you can take it wherever you want.



Source by Randy Wilson

What Are Some Simple DIY Home Improvement Ideas For Beginners?

If you are a home owner, with a certain amount of involvement, patience and creativity doing DIY projects for your house can be a very rewarding and cost effective experience. One of the most exciting aspects of owning a home are the vast number of changes that you can keep incorporating in your house to increase its value and looks. And when it comes to home improvement projects, it is not always essential to hand over every task to a professional.

So if you are a home owner and are thinking of simple and easy ways to begin DIY projects the following list of ideas will be surely helpful to get you going:

o Indoor and outdoor painting – One of the most easiest and effective way to give your house an instant facelift is to paint it yourself. Painting a home is one of the simplest DIY tasks as well as an inexpensive one. All you have to do is to choose colors that complement your rooms as well as the exteriors of your home. An important point to keep in mind while painting your home is to keep all the flooring, woodwork, switchboards well covered before starting your task.

o Creative woodwork – Though woodwork and carpentry requires practice as well as skill one can always begin with a simple task such as building a bird house in the garden or your porch area. You can look up a simple birdhouse design and include a bird bath as well as a feeder which will be sufficient to keep your home bright and chirpy with your winged guests.

o DIY garden projects – Your garden area is one the best places to do home improvement tasks which can give your whole residence a beautiful look. From mowing your lawns to pruning and weeding you can include a fountain, tree benches, hammocks as well as wind chimes and gravel paths.

o Exterior lighting – Lighting can beautifully enhance the exterior appearance of your home. You can experiment in diverse ways like putting up Victorian style lamp posts at the entrance or creating beautifully lit corners in your garden area.

o Repair work – Another great way to begin DIY home projects is to take up minor repair works such as electrical repairs and plumbing. For this you would need to invest in a good tool box as well as read up about home repair basics in order to perform your task safely and successfully.



Source by Fiona Livnat

Tax Strategy Problem – Home Products Universal

Your client, Home Products Universal (HPU), distributes home improvement products to independent retailers throughout the country. Its management wants to explore the possibility of opening its own home improvement centers. Accordingly, it commissions a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study, which ultimately persuades HPU to expand into retail sales. The consulting firm bills HPU $150,000, which HPU deducts on its current year tax return. The IRS disputes the deduction, contending that, because the cost relates to entering a new business, it should be capitalized. HPU’s management, on the other hand, firmly believes that, because the cost relates to expanding HPU’s existing business, it should be deducted. In contemplating legal action against the IRS, HPU’s management considers the state of judicial precedent: The federal court for HPU’s district has ruled that the cost of expanding from distribution into retail sales should be capitalized. The appellate court for HPU’s circuit has stated in dictum that, although in some circumstances switching from product distribution to product sales entails entering a new trade or business, improving customer access to one’s existing products generally does not. The Federal Circuit Court has ruled that wholesale distribution and retail sales, even of the same product, constitute distinct businesses. In a case involving a taxpayer from another circuit, the Tax Court has ruled that such costs invariably should be capitalized. HPU’s Chief Financial Officer approaches you with the question, “In which judicial forum should HPU file a lawsuit against the IRS: (1) U.S. district court, (2) the Tax Court, or (3) the U.S. Court of Federal Claims?” What do you tell her?

Home Products Universal (HPU) is a distributor of home improvement products to retailers nationwide. The management of HPU wants to explore the possibility of opening its own retail centers. HPU hired a consulting firm to study the feasibility of expanding into retail sales. The consulting firm billed HPU $150,000 for services rendered. HPU deducted the charge on its current year tax return. The IRS disputed the deduction saying that since the cost is related to entering into a new business, the cost should be capitalized. HPU’s management contends that since the cost is related to HPU expanding its existing business, the cost should be deducted. The management HPU has considered legal action against the IRS. The Federal Court in HPU’s district has ruled that if a company expands from distribution into retail sales that the cost of the expansion should be capitalized. The Appellate Court ruled that in certain circumstances switching from product distribution to product sales is considered entering into a new trade. In a separate case involving a taxpayer from another circuit, the Tax Court ruled that the cost of expansion should be capitalized. In considering legal action against the IRS, HPU’s Chief Financial Officer has raised the question of which judicial forum the lawsuit should be filed: the U.S. District Court, the Tax Court, or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The appropriate forum for filing the lawsuit against the IRS would be the U.S. Tax Court. The U.S. Tax Court, established in 1942, has national jurisdiction and hears only tax-related cases. In considering its lawsuit against the IRS, HPU would not want to file its lawsuit in U.S. District Court due to that fact that the company distributes products to companies nationwide. Each state has at least one U.S. District Court and the courts are independent of one another. Due to this fact, the decision made by the U.S. District Court in one state may not apply in another state. Since HPU distributes products nationwide and wants to expand nationwide, the company would want the case to be heard in a court that has national jurisdiction.

The U.S. Tax Court specializes in handling tax disputes that occur before the Internal Revenue Service has made an assessment of a formal tax. HPU can decide to file their lawsuit in another court forum. However, the U.S. Tax Court is the only forum where HPU can have its case heard without having to pay the amount in dispute. If the case was tried in the United States Court of Federal Claims or a U.S. District court, the tax would have to be paid before the lawsuit could be filed. The Legislative Branch of the United States government makes the U.S. Tax Court unique and singular. By having the case tried in the U.S. Tax Court, the management of Home Products Universal can have the company’s CPA’s represent them in court even though the CPA’s have no legal training.

U.S. Tax Court is a court of national jurisdiction and its rulings are uniform for everyone regardless of their place of business or residence. The Tax Court is not bound by the decisions of the U.S. District Court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims even if the U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over the taxpayer. Cases in the U.S. Tax Court are decided by judges, who are experts in the field of tax law, without jury trials. Judges in the Tax Court are appointed by the President and serve terms of 15 years. The U.S. Tax Court is more relaxed in comparison to other formal courts which helps facilitate dispute settlement more cooperatively.



Source by Linda Kinyo

Shrewd Tips To Help With Auto Insurance

Many consumers feel learning the fundamentals of auto insurance is hard to do. In truth, research and understanding make it much less confusing.

Every company has their own way of calculating your risk level and premium rates. You will find the policy that is most affordable and best suited to you by consulting with several competitors.

TIP! Do not pick the first insurance company you come across. All companies use some type of formula to calculate the premium.

Cut back on how much you drive every year to save some money on your premiums. Most insurance companies will actually decrease the amount of your premium if you drive less.

Make sure your license clean.If you do have citations or accident reports on your record, check with your insurance company to see if attending traffic school, which will lower your rates.

Avoid letting your coverage lapse to help keep your policy rates low. You may experience breaks in coverage easily by moving from one insurance carrier or policies. Your insurance company will raise the rate charged once they discover these lapses.

Try to ride buses or joining a carpool. Insurance companies appreciate their customers being responsible clients.

You will pay less if you have just one driver for a particular vehicle.

When you are shopping for car insurance, be sure to get quotes from a number of different companies. Rates vary drastically in the next. Get new quotes every year to ensure you always have the lowest premiums and out-pocket-costs. Make sure these quotes are for a similar amount of coverage as last year.

TIP! Make sure to research insurance costs when you are purchasing a car. Your insurance agent can tell you what vehicles have the best premiums.

It is not a good idea make your insurance in one lump sum each year rather than paying monthly basis.Your auto insurance company may add three to five extra dollars to your bill. These fees can become significant over time. Adding another payment to your monthly bills can also turn into a nuisance.The fewer payments you have to worry about, the more money you save.

Consider removing some coverage items from your insurance policy that you no longer need. For instance, if your car is an old model or simply not worth much, you may not need to pay for collision insurance. You can save a considerable amount of money by eliminating unnecessary coverage. You may also look into the necessity of your comprehensive and liability coverage.

Get rates from different insurance companies before you decide on which one to get for your car. Chances are you’ll need to look around to find the best rates possible.

Talk to your own insurance agent before switching to another company.

Always consider the cost of insurance before purchasing a car. Auto insurance companies can be less expensive on safer automobile. You must factor in this expense when deciding which car you are purchasing a vehicle.

Consider paying your insurance at one time. There are many companies that charge you a fee for paying in monthly payments.

For instance, some companies will reduce your rate if you successfully complete a driving course following a ticket or accident.

Auto Insurance

Almost anyone can benefit from the tips listed here. These tips can help you to get the best deals on auto insurance for the coverage that you need. You want to be sure to find auto insurance that fits your needs but does not cost an arm and a leg. The information presented here should serve as a guide.